There is an assumption to be productive you must be exceptionally organised. Or that you need apps and technology and systems OR ANOTHER PERSON to manage your life. How To Be Really Productive – achieving clarity and getting results in a world where work never ends – is proof that there is no one size fits all. You need to work out what works best for you.

I first met Grace Marshall as I began my journey of employee to self-employment. Immediately I was drawn to her open nature and straight-talking approach. In a world of productivity gurus, it was refreshing to meet someone who wasn’t all about the “hustle”; a working mum who was leading a wave of working smarter not harder, and who was not a naturally organised person.

I first used this book in 2015, as way of finding some clarity when I was going through a redundancy procedure and a stressful project close down. Then, when I was made redundant and actually, for a little while, I didn’t have that much work on! How to stay productive when you have nothing to do, even as an experience sales person, is a very meta thing!

Now, nearly 2.5 years later, it was a no brainer that the book would end of up on The Balance Collective Book Club list.

Grace sticks to her words about productivity. This isn’t just a conceptual book but one that holds you accountable through each’s chapter’s action sheets, “Over to you”. She doesn’t dictate that one way is the best way, but allows you reflect on all of your life and it’s experiences and consider how that is influencing your behaviour.

How to be really productive book review

This book is part coaching, part mentoring, part action and lots of fun.
Yes, a book about productivity can be fun. Who would have thought it!


It doesn’t matter if you are a student, a working parent, a business owner or looking to just get more stuff done, this book is for you! You just place the guidance into the context of your life.
If I was to note down everything that was impactful, I would just end up copying down the whole book. And at the end of the day, that’s not ethical or legal!

So, instead, I will become “Clara Cliff Notes” for you and tell you the top four things you need to know!

How to cope with mistakes
Surely, a productive person NEVER makes mistakes. Mistakes are for people that don’t prepare. If you make a mistake, you aren’t good enough.
Any of these ring true?
I’ll stop you right there, NONE of those things are correct.
This is the nonsense we say to ourselves, or allow others to say to us, that makes us believe that perfection is necessary for productivity.
In reality, mistakes lead to break throughs. To innovations and changes. If you haven’t already, check out “Black Book Thinking” to delve into this deeper.
Grace describes “three Cs”: Clarity, Control and Connections” as a way to manage mistakes.
Simply, what has ACTUALLY happened, what can you control and who can you connect with around the issue in a positive way?

Is your work meaningful?
Don’t mistake being busy for doing things that are worth doing! You always need purpose within what you do – and if that purpose isn’t there, it can drain and demotivate you.
Let’s be clear – work (as in paid work) isn’t always what makes you feel purposeful (which I wrote about here), but if you aren’t sure of WHY you are doing something then it can make the most motivated person fall short. You want to make sure you are doing REAL WORK. Work where you are you are making a difference.
Ask yourself “What is the point?”

How to be really productive




Importance of Digging Ditches
Hands up who is impatient?
Ah, glad it is not just me!
The thing with productivity is it can feel like you are working hard for nothing, when if fact you are preparing for what needs to happen next. In a world of advancing technology and instant gratification, we can get frustrated and give up right before the tipping point of life. Grace advices us to get very clear on your vision, how this ties into the ACTION you are taking now and trust the process.

Name your overwhelm
Life is busy, however streamlined we try and make it, and things can run out of control. Even when things are happening that we invite into our lives with open arms, it can start to feel a little too much. But, if we don’t identify what it is, get clear on what is actually overwhelming us, then it is hard to get results. So, next time it all feels too much, write a heart and brain dump of EVERYTHING is that is bothering you.

Remove the guilt of and name the actions or expectations that are taking over the logical part of you!

Ultimately, Grace advocates that productivity isn’t 100% energy, 100% efficiently or 100% effort 100% of the time. It is a life where you feel in control, and that your actions have a purposeful end result.
In the words of Bertrand Russell, just remember

“Time you enjoy wasting is NOT wasted time”

Let me know your thoughts. What did you learn from the book. Implemented anything new?
Come over to The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox to share your thoughts. Read the other book reviews here.

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